Satsuma biwa seiha, Heike biwa performer – Suda Seishu’s Heikyoku performances are now available to view in our archive.

There are various Heikyoku performers throughout the country. There are also study groups and preservation societies, and although each group has its own unique way of telling the story and passing on the tradition, all of them are working diligently to pass it on to future generations. I hope that you will be able to feel the appeal of Heikyoku through the performers, study groups, and preservation societies.

Today, I would like to introduce my master, Suda Seishu.
Click here to listen to all 200 Heikyoku songs performed by Mr. Suda, as part of the National Diet Library’s Internet Archive project to collect and preserve Internet resources. You can listen to all of the songs.

Suda Seishu
Satsuma biwa seiha, Heike biwa performer

Personal history
Born in Tokyo in 1947. Studied Satsuma biwa under Tsuji Yasutake and Heikyoku under Kindaichi Haruhiko. Has appeared in numerous concerts both in Japan and abroad, and has been in charge of teaching biwa for NHK’s Taiga dramas. Major concerts include “The World of the Tale of the Heike”. He is currently the President of the Japan Biwa Music Association, the President of the Satsuma Biwa Ancient Music Study Group, and the Director of the Satsuma Biwa Seigenkai.

Performance by Satsuma biwa seiha
The Satsuma biwa seiha is characterized by its bold and free-spirited performances. The large biwa is strummed vigorously with a large plectrum, and the improvisational melodies are sung with great force.

Satsuma biwa seiha “Kawanakajima”
Performed by Suda Seishu, 27 minutes 01 seconds.

Performance of Heike biwa and Heikyoku
The Heike biwa and Heikyoku change their rhythm and tempo according to the content. Songs with heroic content are sung quickly with lively rhythms, while songs with sad content are sung slowly with a somber rhythm.

Heikyoku “Atsumorisaigo”
Performed by Suda Seishu, 33 minutes 13 seconds.

Gion Shoja is more than just the beginning…
On the Internet Archive, you can listen to 200 Heikyoku recitations by Mr. Suda, so if you want to listen to the beginning of the Tale of the Heike, “Gion Shoja”, please start from track 195. I like the part at the end, “Tonojo no senkaku wo ba mada yurusanu”, better than the beginning of “Gion Shoja no kane no koe”. It’s as if the cord tying up the first volume of the Tale of the Heike has finally been untied, and the story is about to begin.

Click here for the Internet Archive of 200 Heikyoku songs by Suda.

There are 161 Hiramono (standard pieces), 28 Denjumono (transmitted pieces), and 10 Hikyoku (secret pieces), and “Gion Shoja” is one of the Hikyoku. It is given after completing all the Heibutsu and Denjuutsu, and it is far away for me who is still in the middle of learning, but even if I don’t learn it in my lifetime, it doesn’t matter at all because I have experienced the importance and satisfaction of learning in stages. Even if I am not very good, I hold the biwa and play loudly. Taking the time to study is really fun. My master taught me that joy.

I hope you will all have a chance to experience the Tale of the Heike and Heikyoku. The Satsuma biwa seiha is wonderful too!

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